World Footwear


2019: the highs and lows of the Italian industry

Jan 7, 2020 Italy
2019: the highs and lows of the Italian industry
Assocalzaturifici gives a snapshot of the current state of the industry emerging from a survey focused on the first nine months of 2019 conducted by the Confindustria Moda Research Centre
According to the Assocalzaturifici, the Italian Footwear Manufacturers' Association, last year "has been a year of ups and downs for the Italian footwear industry". 2019 saw a drop in production (-2.9% by quantity over the first nine months of the previous year) and household purchases (-3.3% in quantity), while exports performed well  (increasing by 6.7% in value). 

“The international success of Italian shoes, confirming the appeal of Italian fashions on world markets, has been rescaled by shrinkage in volumes, translating into a drop in production and employment,” explained Assocalzaturifici Chair Siro Badon, adding: “The footwear industry needs a new emphasis on youth and innovation. The industry needs to invest in vocational training for the workers of the future, because our companies are going through a hard time, characterised by generational turnover, and, especially, to make use of the innovative business platforms at its disposal (...) Sustainability above all is the key driver for intercepting consumers’ demands and changing lifestyles today. Global markets are of course important to our member companies, but it’s equally important to make sure everyone sits down at the table to play by the same rules. This is why we're working hard to obtain European approval of legislation introducing obligatory information on origin. If customers all over the world and the most prestigious fashion brands are willing to pay a premium price for shoes made in Italy, we need to protect this added value. Otherwise the industrial heritage of a crucial sector of the Italian economy will be lost, with very serious consequences for employment in the country.”

According to the report by Confindustria Moda Research Centre, household purchases were down by -3.3% by quantity in the first nine months of the year, or -2.6% in value. The only growing segment being the athletic footwear and sneakers (up by 1.5% in volume and by 3.5% in terms of spending). Sales of “classic” shoes were down for both men (by 10% in volume) and women (-6%, though sales of ankle boots and high boots remained stable).

Exports have performed positively as they were up by 6.7% (value terms) thanks to work performed on contract for luxury brands, with a slight drop in terms of quantity (-0.8% in the first eight months of the year, as much as -4.2% in the case of leather shoes) and an average price +7.5% higher. Breaking down the trends by market, there were encouraging signs from Switzerland (+24.2% in value) and France (+9% in terms of both value and volume), which together account for almost a third of the total value of Italy’s footwear exports, while difficulty persisted in exports to Germany (-8.7% in volume), Russia (-18.5%) and the Middle East (-14%), with a-12.8% drop by volume in the Arab Emirates. Exports to the USA were up (by 11.6% in value), as were exports to the Far East (going up by 9.2% on the whole). The “China+Hong Kong” aggregate, now the fifth largest export market in value, grew by 3.1% in volume and 8.5% in terms of value.

The same report also revealed the widening gap between the performance of the big brand names and that of the small enterprises producing shoes under their own trademarks, which form the "backbone of the country’s footwear-making districts".

The same source indicated that the total number of footwear manufacturers in Italy in the first nine months of 2019 was 4 357 (148 less than in the previous year and a -3.3% drop), while the number of employees remained practically unchanged at 75 474 (-0.3%; roughly less 200 workers).

Image credits: Jaclyn Moy on Unsplash

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